Just a few years ago, I sang in our church’s children’s choir. Some of the songs still rattle around in my brain and pop up at the strangest of times. Memory’s funny that way. I can’t read the gospel lesson for this Sunday, Luke 17: 11-19 without humming “Only One Came Back.”
(For a trip down my-memory lane, you can see it here. No I don’t know why there’s a dog in the video.)
The song is only three lines long, really, with a lot of repetition. Perfect for memory. But what really stuck with me was not how great Leper #1 was, but how lousy the other nine were. Maybe this is my own guilty conscience speaking but so often I think we turn gratitude into one more item on our to-do list, a chore, a burden so that we don’t turn into one of those lousy, ungrateful lepers. Or, perhaps worse, we focus on doing things to save us from our worst selves, rather than allowing joyful practices to transform us.
So, this Sunday, may I suggest that after almost 2000 years we let lepers #2-10 off the hook, and focus instead on how the explicitly grateful leper was changed. May it be an invitation to be gracious with ourselves, and allow gratitude to be a gift, rather than a burden. To make up for the cheesy song that’s stuck in your head if you clicked the youtube link, here’s a Karen Carpenter Song, Sometimes.
Thank you for reading, gentle souls.